Thursday, March 23, 2017
Israeli police have arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and other institutions in the United States, marking a potential breakthrough in the case after an international manhunt with the FBI
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker, but said that his motives were still unclear. Police banned publication of his name, but said that he was an American-Israeli dual citizen.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
A new study of hundreds of human genomes has revealed that groups in various regions of the world have evolved for diets with different amounts of meat and vegetables
People from Europe, particularly its southern regions, are optimized for a high-plant diet. But people from other areas, such as the Inuit of Greenland, have a biochemistry that is better able to process lots of meat fat. UC Berkeley integrative biology professor Rasmus Nielsen and his colleagues had access not only to hundreds of genome sequences from humans today, but also to sequences from 101 people who lived in Europe 5,000 years ago during the Bronze Age. By comparing these genomes, they found that two particular regions of DNA were under intense selection over the past several thousand years and changed rapidly in response to evolutionary pressures. These DNA regions contain two genes called "fatty acid desaturase 1 and 2," or FADS1 and 2 for short. The FADS genes regulate how the human body converts short-chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) into long-chain PUFAs for the health of many tissues, including muscles and the brain. In Europeans dating back to the Bronze Age, the FADS genes have undergone mutations to produce more long-chain PUFAs. This suggests a diet higher in vegetables and grains, which produce short-chain PUFAs. Meat produces long-chain PUFAs. The Inuit group's FADS genes are primed to produce fewer long-chain PUFAs, likely because the Inuit diet is so high in animal fats from ocean mammals. Nielsen and his colleagues believe that the European variant of the FADS genes likely are the result of agricultural lifestyles, leading to diets rich in wheat and vegetables. When people in Europe and the Middle East began to practice farming over 10,000 years ago, suddenly they were ingesting far more of those short-chain PUFAs. People who could convert short-chain PUFAs into long-chain PUFAs efficiently were more likely to survive, and so their FADS genes were passed on. It's also likely that the FADS genes have been changing rapidly for tens of thousands of years, as humans found new environmental niches across the planet. This puts them in stark contrast with genes that allow for lactose tolerance, which are clearly linked to a rise in dairy production on farms in the West. "The selection associated with lactase persistence (avoidance of lactose intolerance) seems to have been stronger in Northern Europe," Nielsen explained. "However, we don't see the same geographic patterns for the FADS genes. If anything, selection that would be driven by a more vegetarian diet might have been stronger in Southern Europe. Selection associated with the FADS genes might also be older than the selection affecting lactase." So there is little overlap between people with veggie-friendly FADS genes and people with genes for lactase persistence.
Monday, March 20, 2017
Poll: Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx
A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said that the border crossers could make Canada "less safe," underlining the potential political risk for Trudeau's Liberal government. The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States in recent months has become a contentious issue in Canada. There has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada. But Trudeau has come under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants. He is questioned about it every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say that the migrants pose a potential security risk. Canadians appeared to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as their American neighbors. Some 48% of Canadians said that they supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” When asked specifically about the recent border crossings from the United States, the same number - 48% - said that Canada should "send these migrants back to the U.S." In the United States, where President Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to boost deportations, 50% of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants.”
Norway is the happiest place on Earth, according to a United Nations agency report - toppling neighbor Denmark from the number one position
The World Happiness Report measures subjective well-being - how happy the people are, and why. Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland round out the top five, while the Central African Republic came last. Western Europe and North America dominated the top of the table, with the United States and Britain at 14th and 19th, respectively. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict have predictably low scores. Syria placed 152 of 155 countries - Yemen and South Sudan, which are facing impending famine, came in at 146 and 147.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Election 2016: Married women were considerably more likely - by a margin of 9 points - to vote for Trump than were unmarried men
They were even marginally more likely to vote for him than were married men! While only 3% of unmarried black women voted for Trump, more than 1-in-4 married black men did. Married Hispanics were marginally more likely to vote for Trump than unmarried whites were. Marrieds were more likely to support Trump than singles in every category examined. Among those of family formation age, Trump wins by 6 points among those with children while losing among those without kids by 12 points.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
A black man in Florida is facing charges that he raped a 13-year-old girl while she was attending a funeral at a church, according to an arrest report
Andre Brown, of Pahokee, is being held without bond at the Palm Beach County Jail and is facing one count of sexual assault on a victim between 12 and 18 years old. The alleged rape took place on April 30, 2016, but the girl did not tell anyone about the assault, because she was scared of being blamed for the attack, the report said. The girl, who was familiar with Brown, told Palm Beach County sheriff’s detectives that Brown, 26, grabbed her by the arm, walked her into the women’s restroom at the church — then locked the door. Brown allegedly took the girl into a stall for handicapped users and raped her, the report said. In July 2016, the girl was taken to a doctor by an unidentified person because “she was not acting right,” the report said. A day later, a doctor revealed that the girl was pregnant. The girl then admitted she was raped by Brown. Brown denied having sex with the girl, but a DNA test showed that he impregnated the victim.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Researchers have found a genetic variation unique to some people of African descent that can add about six pounds of extra weight
About 1 percent of people of African heritage carry the genetic variation, the team at the National Institutes of Health reported. And those who have it are more likely to be obese: more than 55% of people with the mutation were obese, compared to 23% of those who don't have it. People of purely European descent don't have this variation. "By studying people of West Africa, the ancestral home of most African-Americans, and replicating our results in a large group of African-Americans, we are providing new insights into biological pathways for obesity that have not been previously explored," said Ayo Doumatey of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the NIH. The team started with 1,500 people taking part in a diabetes study in Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. They did what's called a genome-wide association study, sequencing all their DNA. They found the mutation in a gene called SEMA4D. It's associated with inflammation and while most people in the world don't have mutations in the gene, 1% of the West Africans did. "We replicated this finding in 1,411 West African samples and 9,020 African American samples," they wrote. Studies looking for obesity genes in other countries hadn't found this mutation, probably because they hardly ever include many African-American or African volunteers. "We wanted to close this unacceptable gap in genomics research," said NHGRI's Charles Rotimi, who led the work. It's important: More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese but rates are even higher among African-Americans. Nearly 48% of African-Americans are overweight or obese. Researchers know that genetics plays a large role in this.
New York education officials are poised to scrap a test designed to measure the reading and writing skills of people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing it
The state Board of Regents is expected to adopt a task force’s recommendation of eliminating the literacy exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test. Backers of the test say that eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms. But the literacy test raised alarms from the beginning because just 46% of Hispanic test takers and 41% of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64% of white candidates. A federal judge ruled in 2015 that the test was not discriminatory, but faculty members at education schools say a test that screens out so many minorities is problematic.
Monday, March 13, 2017
The head of a national inquiry into Indigenous incarceration has said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people might need to be treated differently by the justice system in order to achieve equity under the law. Federal court judge Matthew Myers said that Indigenous incarceration statistics had become “so bad” that it was difficult to argue some laws did not disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that those laws might need to be changed to address the problem. One common reason for Aboriginal imprisonment is wife-bashing. For Myers' rule to work, an Aboriginal man should be no more likely to go to jail than a white. But for that to occur, an Aboriginal wife-beater should be no more likely than an white wife-beater to go to jail. Given that the rate of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities is so much higher than everywhere else, Myers' rule means a judge must treat Aboriginal wife-beaters unequally, by sparing them the jail they'd give a white. Aboriginal women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of domestic violence than women in the rest of the community. In practice, Myers' rule means this: bashing an Aboriginal woman should not be considered as bad as bashing a white one, as long as the basher is an Aboriginal man. The Aboriginal wife-basher should not be punished as much as a white wife-basher. In fact, on these figures, an Aboriginal man should be 34 times less likely to be jailed for bashing his wife than a white man for bashing his. Only in that way do the imprisonment rates for each race match up. Great for men. Not so great for Aboriginal women.
An analysis of ancient Egyptian mummy genomes reveal that ancient Egyptians shared more Near Eastern ancestry than present-day Egyptians, who received additional Sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
ICE officials have confirmed that a North Carolina teen who has been charged with chopping off his mother's head with a butcher knife is in the United States illegally
Oliver Funes-Machado, 18, is originally from Honduras and is accused of repeatedly stabbing his 35-year-old mother in their Zebulon home. He allegedly beheaded her and then walked outside, holding her head in one hand and the knife in the other as he waited for Franklin County deputies to arrive. He was the one who called 911. Sheriff Ken Winstead released a statement, saying that two siblings, a 4-year-old sister and 2-year-old brother, were in the home at the time of the attack.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
For its annual Best Countries list, US News & World Report surveyed more than 21,000 people from 36 countries around the world. Factors such as the economy and quality of life were taken into account. Overall, here are the top 10: Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Sweden, United States, Australia, France and Norway.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Police in the south Indian state of Karnataka have arrested three people in connection with the "human sacrifice" of a 10-year-old girl
Police said that the child was killed on the instructions of a "sorcerer" to "cure" a paralyzed man. The man's brother and sister have been arrested on charges of abducting and murdering the girl. The alleged sorcerer told them that it was the only way to undo "black magic" affecting their sibling, police said. A 17-year-old boy has also been arrested for helping to abduct the girl, police said. "There are a few more people who have abetted the crime. We are investigating it from all angles. So more arrests cannot be ruled out," senior police officer B Ramesh said. The murder was discovered after residents discovered the body of the girl inside a bag. They also found materials which police believe were used to conduct "black magic" rituals. As news about the incident spread, a mob gathered outside the brother and sister's home and began throwing stones. Police had to use force to disperse the gathering.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
A snowshoe racer from India whose entry into the United States to compete was made possible by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is being held in a New York jail on a sex charge
The U.S. embassy in New Delhi had rejected Tanveer Hussain’s application for a visa so he could compete in the World Snowshoe Championship in upstate New York. Local officials then intervened on Hussain’s behalf, appealing for help to the offices of Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Their offices reached out to the New Delhi embassy, which allowed Hussain to reapply for a visa and granted that visa. Saranac Lake Police Chief Charles Potthast said that the charges, one of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and another of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, stem from Hussain “engaging in a passionate kiss” with a 12-year-old girl, and accusations of the athlete touching her over her clothing in an “intimate area.” Hussain was arrested after Saranac Lake Village police received a report of the alleged incident. Hussain, who was being held on a $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond, has a preliminary hearing at St. Armand Town Court in St. Armand, New York. Schumer’s office said that he often intervenes to facilitate international competition.
President Jacob Zuma has called on parliament to change South Africa’s constitution to allow the expropriation of white owned land without compensation
Zuma, 74, who made the remarks in a speech, said that he wanted to establish a “pre-colonial land audit of land use and occupation patterns” before changing the law. “We need to accept the reality that those who are in parliament where laws are made, particularly the black parties, should unite because we need a two-thirds majority to effect changes in the constitution,” he said. Zuma, who has lurched from one scandal to another since being elected to office in 2009, has adopted a more populist tone since his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party suffered its worst election result in August 2016 since the end of apartheid in 1994. The ANC is also under pressure from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema. Malema has been travelling the country urging black South Africans to take land from white invaders and “Dutch thugs”. He told parliament recently that his party wanted to “unite black people in South Africa” to expropriate land without compensation. “People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” he said.
Friday, March 3, 2017
A 24-year-old woman from India who was cremated on a funeral pyre may have been alive when the cremation took place
Student Rachna Sisodia had been declared dead at Sharda hospital in Greater Noida, in northern India's Uttar Pradesh state, on February 25, 2017. The cause of her death was given as a lung infection. Her body was released to her husband Devesh Chaudhary, 23, who drove it to a funeral pyre location two hours away, where he and some companions began the cremation. Police then arrived on the scene and pulled the woman from the fire, believing that she was still alive. A subsequent post-mortem later concluded that Rachna had died from "shock caused by being burnt alive," after post-mortem found ash was found in her respiratory tract. A hospital spokesperson said: “This happens when someone is burnt alive. The particles go inside with the breath. If a person is dead, such particles cannot reach the lungs and windpipe. So the doctors concluded that the woman was burnt alive on the pyre.”
Disgraced black journalist Juan Thompson arrested for anti-Semitic bomb threats in revenge plot to frame ex-girlfriend
A spurned black man, in a bizarre campaign to destroy his ex-girlfriend, made bomb threats to at least eight Jewish community centers in 25 terrifying days. Juan Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, was arrested in connection with the menacing messages sent by phone or email to Jewish organizations from coast to coast. He invoked his girlfriend’s name in making four of the bomb threats, the FBI said in court papers. “Thompson appears to have made some of the ... threats as part of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate” the former girlfriend, according to an FBI complaint. Thompson, arrested at his grandmother’s house in St. Louis, was held without bail after a Federal Court appearance on charges of cyberstalking. Thompson, in a blue collarless shirt, khaki pants and handcuffs, politely answered questions before he was led away. The threats by Thompson “not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but ... intimidated an entire community,” said William Sweeney, head of the New York FBI office. His arrest followed a massive investigation involving multiple law enforcement groups. The harassment started when the Brooklyn woman dumped Thompson in July 2016, and included emails to her employer claiming that she was an anti-Semite suffering from a sexually-transmitted disease. Her name was also sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with a message claiming the woman kept child pornography photos on her phone. Thompson turned his attention to the Jewish centers in 2017, making the threats between January 28 and February 21. Thompson targeted Jewish groups in Manhattan, Dallas, San Diego and Farmington Hills, Michigan, with half the threats made using his ex-girlfriend’s name and the other half made in his name, according to an FBI complaint. The girlfriend “hates Jewish people (and) is the head of a ring and put a bomb in (the San Diego) center to kill as many Jews asap,” read one of the emails. He tried to pin the threats that used his name on the former paramour, insisting that she was actually trying to undermine him, the FBI charged. Thompson — a disgraced journalist who made headlines in February 2016 when he was fired for using bogus quotes in his stories — even called her out via Twitter. “Know any good lawyers?” he tweeted on February 24, 2017. “Need to stop this nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.” The Intercept, a news website focused on national security, issued a statement distancing itself from the dismissed black ex-employee. The black reporter was fired after claiming that he interviewed a nonexistent cousin of Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre shooter Dylann Roof. Thompson worked at The Intercept between November 2014-January 2016. “We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson has been arrested,” read the statement. “These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.” Two of the threats targeted the ADL offices in Manhattan, officials said. The non-profit group, which combats anti-Semitism, reports at least 90 bomb threats to Jewish institutions in 12 states since the beginning of 2017. The arrest was the result of a collaborative investigation between the FBI, NYPD detectives and prosecutors from around the country.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
A Muslim teenager who attacked a Jewish teacher in France with a machete has been sentenced to seven years in jail by a French juvenile court
The 17-year-old was convicted at a closed-doors trial for wounding the teacher who was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap, or yarmulke, while walking to school in January 2016 in the southern city of Marseille. Prosecutor Brice Robin said shortly after the attack that the teenager, who has not been identified because of his age, said he had acted in the name of the Islamic State militant group. The Muslim teenager, a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin, was 15 at the time of the attack. He was charged with attempted murder in connection with a terrorist attack, with the aggravating factor of anti-Semitism. France is home to both the largest Jewish and the largest Muslim populations in Europe. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a number of large-scale attacks in France, including a truck attack that killed 86 people in the Riviera resort of Nice in July 2016 and a coordinated series of attacks in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people were killed.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
South Africa has deported 97 Nigerians for various offences following a series of raids, Nigerian officials said, amid heightened bilateral tensions over anti-immigrant violence in South Africa
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to Nigeria's president on diaspora matters, said that the deported Nigerians had arrived home. "Some of them claimed they were returned for irregular migration offences when the South Africa authority withdrew their voluntary work permits that it had hitherto given to African migrants, and made ... work permits more difficult to get," she said. "They (Nigerians) have been arbitrarily raided ... More (deportations) will likely follow," said Dabiri-Erewa, adding that drug offenders among those sent back had been handed over to the Nigerian police. Uche Ajulu-Okeke, Nigeria's consul-general to South Africa, confirmed the deportations in a text message, saying they were due to a "lack of documentation". Some had said their documents were destroyed in anti-immigrant violence, so they were no longer able to prove they had legal documents, she said. "I know, coming in the wake of xenophobia, that it (the deportation) was not a very sensitive act," she said. Anti-immigrant sentiment in South Africa flared up in late February 2017 against a background of near-record unemployment, with foreigners being accused of taking jobs from locals and getting involved in crime. In retaliation, protesters in Nigeria vandalized the head office of South African mobile phone company MTN in the capital Abuja. Some Nigerians have demanded that South Africans leave their country. Asked about the deportations, Mayihlome Tshwete, a spokesman for South Africa's home affairs ministry, said that his country deported people of different nationalities "on a day-to-day basis". "Deportation is a 90-day process and it happens on an ongoing basis, so I won't get into a singling out of Nigerians," he said, when asked for details about the Nigerians deported. Nigeria's parliament have selected a team of 12 lawmakers to travel to South Africa, along with foreign ministry officials, to hold talks with the South African government, parliamentarians and the Nigerian community. No time was given for when the delegation would leave.